IsoGreco – experiments in Blender

When Isometrics and Greece get mixed in a Blender

Here’s a new thing I’ve been working on in Blender.

As usual, it started as an accident. I was trying to create a fractal landscape using a subdivided grid, a subdivision surface modifier and a displace modifier with a cloud texture. By chance, moving through the cloud’s settings, I saw at the top cell noise. By setting the cell depth of the cell setting to 1, I had a large square block displacement. Changing it to two, this give me an overlay layer of half sized on top of the originals. Changing that up to 4 gave the look of the land

Seeing the Minecraft-esque look, I immediately changed the camera to an orthographic and moved it to an isometric angle. I decided it would be nice to have a shader that emulated the land and water levels using RGB constants on a colour ramp. I’ve done something similar before in Maya, but never in blender. I started with a principled shader, added a colorRamp into the colour. In order to map it only in the Z, I separated off the Z position from a Geometry Input Node – giving me a value of 0 to 1 in the Z, and added this into the factor of the colorRamp. This then maps the colorRamp from 0 to 1 vertically, the top and bottom colours carrying on into infinity. Multiplying this value by 4 made it go from 0 to 1 over a distance of 0 to .25 (I realise I could have easily remapped that with a different node now) and added a little amount to that value to move it up a touch on the Z and match better to my displacement height.

The shader on the land

To add a little variation to the edges, I mixed into the colour a darker version of the colorRamp using the Pointiness of the Geometry Input node. Such a wonderful input, it uses object edge angles similar to a dirtPass in V-Ray and, using a crunched up colorRamp as the controller, I was able to add the darkened edges over the original colorRamp.

The sea was a Plane but with a very simple translucent shader on it. This made it possible to see whatever was just below the surface clearly, but added a little blur as the ground was further away. Mixed with a glossy shader to add a little reflection, I stopped there with the water.

But I wanted something more. So I built a tiny ship using two different block sizes to try and emulate a similar feel to the landscape.


Importing this, I shrunk it down and added it into the water, duplicating it a couple of times.

So that is where it is right now.


I’m going to add some more stuff – some greek buildings – and hopefully try some other lighting too. I’ll add them here as I do.

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